Saturday, June 26, 2004

Visit Los Angeles and Meeting with Roger

Book signing event today:

June 26, 2004 Esowon Books 3655 S. Labrea Los Angeles 10:00 a.m.

I just visited Roger. This visit drained me physically and mentally, but I'm glad I saw him. Where do I begin? I had tried to avoid seeing him. As I said before, he doesn't have a job, his car was repossessed and his ex took him to court and the judge told him to pay up or do time. He asked me for money some time ago. He was saying he had some sort of disease and couldn't work. I thought he was just making up excuses. I wanted him to get off his lazy ass and do something with his life. He's not a kid anymore. I thought the threat of jail time would straighten him out. That's why I was trying to avoid him.

I did visit my nephew. He's ten years old. One of the reasons I'm so angry with Roger is the fact he's setting such a bad example for his son. His son deserves better. I love my nephew and I'm trying to be the best uncle I could be, but he needs his dad.

I gave him this book, The Little Prince. I'm trying to show him another, more bright, more uplifting side of life than the one his father is showing him. The Little Prince is one of my favorite stories. Most people love this book. Globally only the Bible and Karl Marx's Das Kapital have sold more copies. Weird, because you'd think Harry Potter or Huckleberry Finn or Shakespeare was more popular. Not so. We Americans live a bit in a only our continent matters bubble. The story is about a pilot crashing in the desert. There he meets a little alien prince. It's not a real children's story. Children will like the story, but grown ups will understand the symbolism, the criticism of our human societies and the different view it gives of us humans then we're used to.

We humans are a breed apart. I found that out today. Again. Roger wanted to see me. His friends had warned me he really was on the verge of a break down. I called him and told him I'd come by. He gave me the address. Early this morning I borrowed my publisher's car and drove over there. He now lives in a dilapidated hotel off LaBrea. It's near Compton. You probably know that name, because a lot of gangster rappers were born there and they use that name in their songs all the time. It's a crime ridden, poor, predominantly African-American area. Quite different from LaBrea, which is a prosperous, thriving African-American section. Strange how these two realities can exist next to each other.

I knocked on his door. He said come in, the door is open. I did. He was in bed. All the way in my car I was preparing myself to read him the riot act. I took one look at him. He looked horrible. I started telling him he was a man, he was a father, that he should take better care of his son. I told him he was responsible for the situation he was in, because of his whoring, coke snorting and boozing. That his ex was a terrific woman and that he had done her wrong. I told him every time I saw the pain in his son's eyes I wanted to smack him for being such a lousy father.

He jumped out of bed and jumped in front of me with a wild look in his eyes. He started shaking all over and growled. Then he fell on his knees in front of me and started to cry out loud. He said "Don't you think I don't know that? Don't you think I know I fucked up my life. I fucked up my son's life. I know. I know. I'm nobody. I wish I was never born. I want to die. I want to die"

A terrible image hit me in the face. There we were again. Me and my baby brother. Back home in Hope. And my little brother had just been terribly beaten by our alcoholic father. He beat me, my mother and Roger, but Roger was the one he abused in the most horrible, horrible fashion. I had brains, I was lucky. I left this miserable place and made something of my life, but my poor little baby brother was still a prisoner of his past.

Seeing this image of years past, I broke down. I fell to my knees, embraced my baby brother and we cried together for five minutes. He wasn't being lazy. He really needed help. Financially, but most certainly psychologically. Maybe it is his mid life crisis that brought back the nightmarish memories of our youth. I don't know, but I do know he's my baby brother and he needs help. Who will help him, if I don't help him?

We talked for half an hour, holding each other’s hands, crying, laughing, really bonding for the first time, since I left home in Hope, Arkansas.

At this moment, I feel devastated, but also happy. I have tears in my eyes, but I'm shaking with excitement, because of the intensity of my feelings for Roger. He needs me. I will be there for him. We will be a happy family again. We just need to work though these problems together. We will be happy one day. I'm sure. It will happen. It will.